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Travel with Our Seniors!

Enjoy the Road on your Bike!
Article by Sandra Bush; Photography by Ric Bush

Ivan Woodhams decided as a teenager that motorcycles would be a constant. “Bikes have always been in my life since I’ve been making choices.”

At 17, the Michigan native took a job at a Honda dealership and learned to wrench on small bikes. In 1968, he bought his first ride, a Hodaka 100 cc for $200. The following year a friend introduced him to the Super Rat bike and racing scrambles held in county farm fields with barriers made from bales of hay and snow fences.

“I would win trophies now and then but I really just felt good about being in the middle of the pack,” he said. “It wasn’t like today where bikes jump 17 feet in the air. We went maybe 60 mph with little jumps. It was pre-motocross.”

He quickly moved up in size and power to a 250 cc engine, then a 900 cc Triumph as well as a few Harleys. More than 50 years and 16 bikes later, he is still riding.

Although it is not a Honda, Kawasaki or a Harley, he enjoys feeling the roar of his Yamaha V Star 1300 cc engine under him as he steers his machine on local roads. His favorite routes are the ones away from the touristy spots, off the beaten path and well-maintained roads with little or no traffic. “I like being out in the wide open. I am not tethered to electronics and it is just me and the road.”

Now a part-time resident of Florida, he will experience Bike Week and be able to ride year-round. “I can do it in January and February. There will be no snow.”

When asked if age makes a difference, Ivan was quick to say that he no longer takes the long rides he once did but the passion has never lessened. “I would take day and weeklong trips in my younger years but now it’s at most a few hundred miles.”

His longest trip—and personal challenge—was 1,000 miles on a Harley in 24 hours at the age of 37. It was one he never did again.

Expanding horizons, Ivan and his wife, Linda Gerard, took several group trips with Edelweiss Tours to Switzerland in 1995, Mexico the following year and Austria in 2003. The couple saw the Swiss Alps, Austria, Germany and Italy from the seat of a BMW 1100 cc bike.  First time out, the pair covered 1,300 miles in nine days. A seven-day tour in 1996 took them 1,200 miles along the Pacific Coast in the U.S. and Mexico.

“I would absolutely recommend it to any rider with blood in their veins,” he said. “It’s incredible.”

The Woodhams still ride together and always wear protective gear, including a helmet. Safety is important along with recognizing that every time they take the bike out, there is a greater chance of an accident that is not there when in the car. And, he is very selective where and when he rides.

“I am not a wild rider but a confident one,” Ivan said. “I take it seriously that I have someone else behind me. She puts her trust in me and I must be trustworthy.”

But it is more than just sharing the road. “It’s a real powerful bond when traveling with someone. My mantra is every time I am on the bike with her, zero mistakes.”

Reflecting on life, Ivan said there are many things that have come out of his love of motorcycles. He has met people from all over the world and made many good friends.

Looking to the future, the 71-year-old will continue to ride as long as he has the physical strength, mental alertness and his health allows him to. When asked about fulfilling his bucket list, he smiled and said, “It has been fun. I hope I recognize the day I need to hang up my keys and helmet.”

Fun Facts about bikes

  • The first successful motorcycle was built in 1901 in Springfield, MA by Carl Hedstrom. It was an Indian.
  • Kawasaki manufacturer also builds spaceships. It started making bikes in 1962.
  • The front tire on a bike provides 75 percent of the road grip.
  • The term motorcycle was coined by British inventor Edward Butler in 1884.
  • The first gas-powered motorcycle was invented by Gottlieb Daimler in Germany in 1885.
  • The longest distance for riding was 2,019.4 miles in a 24-hour period set in August 2011 by Russell Vaughn in Texas.
  • Malcom Forbes, founder of Forbes magazine, has owned 50 Harleys.

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